West Virginia Schools to Showcase the Arts at Arts Alive

April 15, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Student artists and musicians from across the state will be featured at the West Virginia Department of Education’s fifth annual Arts Alive event celebrating the arts achievement of public schoolchildren.

The lobby showcase begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by the main performance at 7 p.m. at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences in Charleston on April 29. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are available from the Clay Center at (304) 561-3500.

Arts Alive will showcase students statewide. The signature event, which includes elementary students for the first time, will feature the visual arts as well as instrumental and vocal music, dance and theater.

“Arts programs encourage students to think creatively, adopt fresh approaches and develop ways of thinking that are visual rather than verbal,” said state Superintendent Jorea Marple. “Arts programs involve skills that are essential to the education of the whole child.

Artwork to be displayed at the event was chosen by the West Virginia Art Education Association, while music performers were selected through regional solo and ensemble festivals. Other groups were included by invitation or through a variety of other existing contests and adjudications across the state.

Performers include the Horace Mann Middle School String Orchestra and the Capital High School Dance Company, Kanawha County; student board members of the West Virginia Thespians from across the state; Danielle Grays and Taylor Rouse from Parkersburg High School and theater students from Parkersburg South High School, Wood County; music students from New Haven Elementary School, Mason County; Marien Stark from Woodrow Wilson High School, Raleigh County; visual art students from Tyler Consolidated High School, Tyler County; the Jefferson High School Jazz Band, Jefferson County; Emily Hopkins from Hurricane High School, Putnam County; the Cabell Midland High School Collegium Musicum, Cabell County; and the Wheeling Park High School Saxophone Quartet, Ohio County.

Audriana Fritz, a 2010 graduate of Parkersburg High School and the winner of best actor award at the 2010 West Virginia Thespian Festival, will serve as co-emcee.

West Virginia launched the Arts Alive event at a time when many public schools across the country are struggling to keep their art and music programs going even though the arts are considered a core academic subject by the U.S. Department of Education. In West Virginia, music and visual art are required core subjects in the K-8 curriculum. In grades 9 through 12, dance, music, theater and visual art must be offered courses, and no student can graduate without an arts credit.  

“We must make sure that every student across West Virginia has access to arts-rich educational opportunities,” Marple said. “A child's education is not complete unless it includes the arts.”

Research shows the arts not only impacts how young people learn to think, but also how they feel and behave. Arts-rich education experiences engage students and enhance learning in other subjects.

An analysis of U.S. Department of Education data on 25,000 middle and high school students found that students who were highly involved in the arts performed better on a variety of academic measures than other students. They earned better grades, did better on exams, dropped out of school less, performed more community service and watched less television.  

West Virginia’s public schools have produced such successful artists as Don Knotts, David Selby, Kathy Mattea, Brad Paisley and Jennifer Garner, among others.

Contact the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699 to set up set up media interviews and video opportunities with all of the performers prior to Arts Alive. For more information on Arts Alive, contact John Deskins, arts coordinator for the state Department of Education, at (304) 558-5325 or jdeskins@access.k12.wv.us.

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